After last night’s expected setback with the election contest panel, the Norm Coleman campaign called a press teleconference to discuss their plans.  Ben Ginsberg, their legal spokesman, said that the panel “misunderstood” their arguments.  He also confirmed that they would continue their appeal.

Ginsberg claimed that the panel deliberately avoided confronting the equal-protection argument, and the due process issues as well.  The panel did not address the shifting standards during the election, the recount, and finally the contest.  The standard the panel eventually adopted was not used by the counties on Election Night.

Questions:

  • MPR: Coleman talked about expediting the filing to the MN-SC — Ginsberg said there’s not a rush to file, but they will file within the 10 day limit.
  • MPR: Why do you think the Supreme Court will deal with the equal-protection and due process questions differently? — The panel did not deal with the case law, didn’t address the differing standards used.  MN-SC will have to address the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters.  Ginsberg thinks the panel focused too much on protecting the system rather than protecting the voters.
  • MNN: What makes you think the MN-SC will find more votes for Coleman? — Ginsberg says that counting the disputed absentee ballots will resolve Coleman’s complaints no matter how it works out.  They believe that the 4400 ballots have more Coleman votes than Franken votes.
  • AP: How many of the 4400 ballots met your requirements, and are any of them double votes?  — Yes, and no.  The double-vote check should still be done, but it won’t affect more than a handful.  They’ve already checked most of them for that very issue.
  • Me: Pawlenty said he won’t sign a certificate until the MN-SC; has the campaign heard about indications that he won’t sign it pending federal appeal? — No, and they have not been in contact with Pawlenty, either.
  • The Hill: Can the MN-SC refuse the appeal?  No, they’re required to hear it.
  • Strib: Are you proposing a review of 12,000 rejected absentee ballots, or are you drawing a line at the 4400? — Coleman’s requesting 4400, but the MN-SC can do whatever they want.
  • Pioneer Press: The panel appears to acknowledge that ballots got treated differently, but that Coleman had to prove it was arbitrary and that it materially affected the race — Ginsberg says he was greatly puzzled by the panel’s notion that they needed to prove this.  Quite obviously, it was arbitrary, and with a gap of only 312 and 4400 ballots outstanding, they have a prima facie case that it affected the outcome.
  • Weekly Standard: How did the court rule on double-counted ballots? — They decided that it wasn’t a problem, which the Coleman campaign rejects.  They wanted a clarification on the statutory requirements on inspections, but the panel avoided the issue altogether.  The panel never did a reconciliation of these precincts, but instead just issued a blanket defense of the system rather than protect the franchise of each voter.
  • CQ: On equal-protection issues, how much human error is acceptable? — Expectations have to be placed higher than the election contest panel has them.  We need to deal with the problems rather than sweep them under the rug and pretend they don’t matter.  You cannot know who won this election without dealing with this problem.

Bottom line: the Coleman campaign thinks the contest panel really botched this in favor of getting the election finished.  Don’t expect them to stop at the Minnesota Supreme Court; they seem to be building an argument more suited for a federal court.